Dragons with new faces (20/6/2012)

Posted in News

New covers for old words: The Memory of Flames re-release has entirely new art. Although less entirely new if you’ve seen the US covers.I’ve never quite been able to decide which ones I like more…



adpalaceCover first draftORDER OF THE SCALES draft cover

A timeless classic sort of look… or DRAGONS! RAAAARRRR!

And I get to have both :-)

The Order of the Scales – Taster

Posted in Excerpts

They hate us. They fear us. They revile us. They outlaw us. And as they do these things, they forget what we truly are. But we do not. We remember. For we tamed dragons.

In Defence of the Urban 4×4 Driver (14/9/2010)

Posted in News



Ah well. Drawn a blank there, so I’ll wallow in self-indulgence instead. Take this Trudi Canavan (at last)!


There’s also another review that looks at both The Adamantine Palace and King of the Crags: “The first book was a marvellous debut.  The second book trumped it hands down.  The excitement, thrills and spills anticipated in the final book promise to be an incomparable fantasy ride.” Media Culture. Makes me wonder how you reviewer folks deal with trilogies – sure, the first book has to stand on its own, but does the second book? Or does the first book influence how you review the second? Do you go back and re-evaluate the whole trilogy when you’ve read all three? How often do you find yourself thinking differently about the first book after reading the last?

Something for another day. Back to the self-indulgence, and here’s a whole slew of reviews for The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice (the thematic similarity of the covers in this picture says something. I’m just waiting for the local Waterstones to have a special hooded man display (or in the case of City of Ruin not-actually-hooded-but-trying-to-act-like-he-ought-to-be) in their SFF section).


First off, an interesting review from LEC book reviews that tries to consier the novel from both an adult and a YA perspective:

“With writing, plot and characters on par or above any other YA fantasy I’ve encountered, The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is an exciting start to a new series. This book deserves to find its way onto many, many bookshelves, be that of younger or older readers.

Total SciFi Online have a go at seeing from both angles too: “The characters are solid and the setting believable, and though the story takes a little while to get off the ground, the narrative developments are engaging, and there’s enough action and revelations to keep the pages turning. The Thief Taker’s Apprentice is the perfect adventure story for teens.

An old fan of The Adamantine Palace: “[Has] the clear potential for a great series if the foreshadowing and hints of much deeper stuff materialize in further installments.” Fantasy Book Critic

There’s something slightly flattering about being in the 200th edition of SFX, even if three stars and “An engaging read” is the best I can get out of an it-was-OK review there. Ho hum. However, I’ve had a pretty good response to my request for younger reviews. All six copies have gone out and a couple more besides and the first review is in:

“I very much enjoyed The Thief Takers Apprentice. I was enthralled by the world, the characters and, most of all, the plot.” F – aged 13.

Probably doesn’t mean all that much to anyone else, but I am insanely pleased.

Finally a review in Locus, stuck at the bottom here because it’s scanned. Hard to pull a quote from it, but rather nice if you read it in its entirety.

TTA locus 1

TTA locus 2

Back (17/8/2010)

Posted in News

I have battled Poseidon, I have scaled mighty cliffs, explored lost islands and hidden coves and supervised the construction of irrigation projects that would make a rice-farmer weep for joy. I have…

OK, OK, I’ve come back from a family holiday at the beach. My way sounded better <sulk>.

I have also, finally, finally, truly and really arrived as a fantasy author, as the ultimate you-write-epic-fantasy thing has happened at last. Yes, it’s a Tolkien comparison. Sort of. If the implication is meant to be that we both drew on bits history for inspiration, well then I think JRR wins that by a country mile, but I’ll take what I can get. There’s a little article about thief-takers (the real thing) on Wikipedia. It really only scratches the surface, but it turns out that’s about as much as you need to know to write a book about them…

There’s a few new reviews kicking about. One from The Booksmugglers for The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. Some “truly brilliant moments” aside, I can’t help but smirk a little when someone finds the thief-taker more interesting than his apprentice. Yes, indeed, Syannis is the enigma for the not-so-young adult readers.

Didn’t make me smirk as much as this review of The Adamantine Palace, though.

“Deas has a deft hand with worldbuilding and history. I absolutely loved all the strange and sinister little touches, like the Scales, that he put into his world. I could have gobbled up twice what he put in without blinking. And honestly, history in fantasy novels usually puts me to sleep, but in TAP I got just enough to keep me curious.”

But the smirk comes at the bit about Zafir. “I sincerely hope that Zafir proves to be more than Jehal’s puppet in the sequel” and a whole lot more. If you’ve read King of the Crags, go and read this review and you can smirk too. It’s nice to know that there’s one reader out there who’s most likely going to punch the air and whoop with joy about exactly halfway through… heh heh.

Status report for editor: The Warlock’s Shadow remains one rewrite away from submission, I appear to have a synopsis of The King’s Assassin that’s about as long as the book itself is supposed to be, I’m still waiting for the edits for The Order of the Scales to Come back and I have a steadily growing urge to get on and start The Black Mausoleum[1], The Sea Princes and something for which I don’t have a title yet but which amused me enough to go and find out who holds the copyright to Fu Manchu.

[1] Yes, I know, I started this some months ago, but it turns out I started something else. Hey ho.

Foreshadowing (7/6/2010)

Posted in News

First off, a couple of early reviews for The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice: - “a gripping read, with engaging characters, that bodes well for future books in the series (and it has me that little more eager for ‘The King of the Crags’)” Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review. Not going to argue with that, although I’m sure there will be plenty more. And

“This apprentice has potential. Please, Mr Deas, can I have some more?” Yes, International Writers Magazine, you may. Books two and three, The Warlock’s Shadow and The King’s Assassin will follow in 2011 and 2012. I’m writing them both right now (strictly rewriting, if there’s truly a difference). Faster than I was a few days ago, having been poked about King of the Crags…

“I also sincerely dislike the fact that I now have to wait for the next instalment to find out what happens next. *Pokes Stephen with a pointy metal stick* Write faster!! Ow! The next installment is with my editor! Poke him!

Even a new review of The Adamantine Palace “Deas gives classic fantasy a unique twist, and I am really curious to see where he will take us from here.”

After posting last week about how role-playing games were a fantastic sandbox for story design, I thought maybe I should justify that statement (of the obvious, to my mind) in a little more depth. So here and there I’ll be putting up what hints and tips I can that I think help in the design of a good story. With a bit of luck, they’ll work for writing novels just as well as for writing adventure campaigns, and I thought I’d start with foreshadowing.

So what is this foreshadowing thing and where do I get some? It’s actually pretty straightforward. Look it up on the internet if you want, but basically, it’s dropping hints early on about stuff that’s going to happen later. So in the first scene of your story, you describe the room where your main character lives and you put a gun on the wall and make of point of mentioning that it’s loaded. In the last scene, someone takes the gun off the wall and shoots him. Mentioning the gun much earlier than it was actually relevant to the story, that’s foreshadowing. Easy. If the apparently goody two-shoes king’s mage is actually going to launch a coup half way through your story and seize the kingdom in the name of Zarkz the Lord of Demons, then foreshadowing is, well, mentioning the existence of Zarkz the Lord of Demons at some point before it happens. Foreshadowing is having the players/protagonists get wind that the king’s mage isn’t quite as nice as people think, whether they see something themselves or hear it through others (if the entire focus of the plot is stopping Zarkz, then it’s arguable that this isn’t foreshadowing so much as, well, plot. So imagine the focus of the story being elsewhere…)

Anyway, the lesson I’ve learned from running too many RPGs is that, whatever you think your story is going to be about, there’s a fair chance that your players will have other ideas and go find some other piece of story. So you might have meant them to investigate the king’s mage and stop Zarkz from being summoned, but in fact, chances are they’ll start running a scam involving bear-baiting, a druid and a lycanthrope, and the first they’ll know about Zarkz is when the Abyssal Palace rises from the earth, half the city falls apart around their feet and there are demonic servitors roaming the streets. So look, for my playing group, I don’t just put a loaded gun on the wall and hope they players notice; scatter them about like confetti. The champion bear is called Zarkz and everyone goes on about how he fights like a demon. That sort of thing. I ran a game once set in the near future where every single item of news ended up being related to the plot, somehow. Just litter the storyline with stuff that takes your fancy, even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it. Half the time your players won’t notice, the other half you’ll come up with something ten sessions later. Trust your imagination. You can throw in a bit of foreshadowing without having a clue what you’re going to do with it. Have no fear – you’ll find something. Leave ‘em lying around, and whenever you need a bit of inspiration as to how the hell you’re going to cope with whatever bizarre plan of action your players come up with, they’ll be waiting for you with open arms…

Books, I think, are much the same. Maybe a bit easier and a bit harder at the same time, in that readers are a little more attentive than players. You don’t need to litter the place with bits of foreshadowing quite so much and you need can’t let them go unused quite so much.

I’ve heard it said, on the subject, that if you’re going to put a loaded gun on the wall in scene one, someone had better use it before the end of the story. Well if you make a big deal of it, yes, but otherwise my advice is to throw the kitchen sink at the foreshadowing, don’t worry if you don’t even know where half your ideas will lead or how they tie into the plot, and don’t worry about the devices you end up not using. In a game, your players will pick up on the ones that interest them and all the rest, well, they probably never noticed in the first place. In a book you can take out the ones that didn’t go anywhere later. That’s what rewrites and editors are for.

The Horror, The Horror (18/5/2010)

Posted in News

It’s been a bit of a week. The Write Fantastic 5th anniversary seemed to go well enough to merit a repeat performance. So did the Forbidden Planet signing and last weekend’s Lincoln Book Festival was fun too – cool to have a genre fiction panel at something like that, and Lincoln has a lovely old city centre (just be warned that when they call a road “Steep Hill”, they mean it). Signed some books, met a few fans for long enough to actually hold a conversation, and came away from the week with two lingering thoughts:

  1. I should assess my audience carefully before mentioning roleplaying games on panels.
  2. I think I’m going to keep count of the gender ratio of the dedications I’m asked to make, because ladies, so far I think you’re kicking ass. It’s Jehal, isn’t it…

Now changing genre to horror: There’s a video interview of me for a US cable TV channel that we did a couple of months back. It’s airing this week in the Michigan area, but for anyone desperately keen to see me look uncomfortable in front of a camera, you can catch it here at www.cult-pop.com. Interview 35. Look mom, I’m on TV!

There’s also a couple more reviews of TAP

“…an absorbing, satisfying read with plenty left in the locker for the future instalments … Dragons are back at the top of the food chain, in all their fire-breathing primal glory.” Speculative Horizons

“Short chapters, with alternating points of view, set a cracking pace from the outset. The language is vibrant with dialogue that moves the story briskly along, yet revealing the levels of political machinations throughout.” Temple Library Reviews

One day I’ll stop obsessively tracking these down. One day. Really. I will.


Work continues on The Warlock’s Shadow. Not much more to be said about that. The noveletto The Thief-Taker’s Blade will be the basis for the short game I plan to run at the UK Games Expo; after that, it may appear somewhere.

Today, though, the sithlings and I stuck little plastic undead monsters together. There were bits left over (you know how it goes with the undead – spare heads and arms all over the place). The sithlings stuck them on anyway. Serriously, if you want an undead monstrosity made of assorted human body parts to give you nightmares, leave it to the unfettered imagination of a seven year old.

Awards Again and More Reviews (11/5/2010)

Posted in News

With King of the Crags out, I’ve not been paying much attention to The Adamantine Palace, but I suppose I should be, what with it being on the Gemmell Award shortlist for best debut of 2009. I’ve seen comments ranging from ‘going to get my vote’ to ’shouldn’t even have been nominated in the first place,’ and I don’t think I really mind either way. Reading so many different reviews for one single book, ranging from what’s in SFX to what’s on Amazon or posted up at Goodreads, I appreaciate more than ever how everyone has their own opinions and how different they can be. So if you’re one of those who liked The Adamantine Palace, please vote for it at the Gemmell Award website. If you’re not, please go and vote anyway. It’s like with the government – no point about bitching about who wins if you don’t vote.

While we’re at it, here’s a rather nice review from over at SF Crows Nest.

“I like it when you get a book that you find yourself completely immersed in. You find yourself almost besotted. You open it up, read the first chapter and bang, real life is boring, irrelevant and petty. This is the world now and be it filled with good or evil, it’s a bloody improvement on hearing about the Iraq war, footballers sex lives and the constant unending threat of annihilation through global warming.

That’s how I felt when I opened up The Adamantine Palace.”

Good, that’s what was suppoed to happen. Exactly that. Plot plot plot and never mind the characters… oh, wait.

“The Adamantine Palace’ is a no holds barred look into how awful characters can be. They are evil. They are sordid. They are completely self-centred. All of them. That’s what makes this book.”

“With a marvellous sweeping prose, a twisting plot and a lead character that is both venomous and awesome, this novel screams out for attention it rightly deserves. It’s a novel that clearly acknowledges its debt to the dragon sub-genre but is so strongly plotted through its characterisation that it pushes itself up into the realms of high political fantasy to threaten the likes of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan.”

Now some people have read The Adamantine Palace and hated it, I guess. Maybe for exactly the reasons this reviewer loved it so much. But it’s still a real kick to read a review like this and know that there’s someone else who read my words and got out of it exactly what I was trying to put into it.

It’s not all roses though…

“a quick, fun political thriller on the same level as a Hollywood blockbuster or modern video game that uses dragons cleverly enough to feel somewhat original. The chapters are short, the pace fast, and the page-count moderate for epic fantasy. But ultimately, it remains unremarkable, in spite of my attempts at the opposite.” from Neth Space


“If Christopher Paolini decided to go on a meth-fueled writing bender he probably still wouldn’t come close to writing his dragons so devilishly.”

Oh, wait, not that bit… this bit

“…short, tight chapters that push the story along in a Thriller type fashion. However, the pushing is at a sacrifice to the characters and the world-building.” from the Mad Hatter

Ah well. I bet the first reviewer will now be slightly disappointed by King of the Crags, while the others will praise its deeper world-building and characterisation.

The Order of the Scales is now with my first reader. I think I can promise a return to the furious pace of the first book, at least in the second half.  Otherwise I’m currently rewriting The Warlock’s Shadow and contemplating what comes next… about which I shall say a little more next week.

Prince Jehal Interviews the Dragon Silence (4/5/2010)

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The regular author of this site continues to be otherwise engaged. This week, I, Prince Jehal, in the last of my interviews with characters from The Adamantine Palace, bring you Silence. I had wanted to talk to the dragon Snow, but needs must as the devil drives, and frankly it’s a lot easier to manage a day-old hatchling than it is a nearly full-grown adult. Oh, and be ready for Silence to talk directly into you head, since if there’s anyone out there who didn’t already know, dragons are telepathic.

Silence: Indeed.

Jehal: Now, as I’m beginning to understand, dragons are more complicated than I thought. There’s a lot of things that most people don’t know. For example, what I just told everyone, that you’re telepathic. Most of us don’t know that. The alchemists are rather too fond of keeping their secrets to themselves.

Silence: Alchemists. Yes. They will all burn.

Jehal: Er… right. Anyway, before we burn anyone, perhaps you could… Hang on, you’re dead. Your burning days are over, surely.

Silence: Dead? I am here before you, little one.

Jehal: Yes… but… Isn’t this a big meta-thing. I mean, I could talk to anyone who died in the first book like they were the actor acting out the part of their character. I think. We’re not actually going to carry any of this back into the story. Are we?

Silence: I do not wish to eat you. Your future of suffering is far too delicious to me.

Jehal: Er…

Silence: In the flesh, the lifespan of a dragon is short. Our spirits, however, are immortal. We die and are reborn again. We are eternal, little one, while you are ephemeral.

Jehal: Care to share why that is?

Silence: Those who created us were in part of this nature. They perfected their own regeneration and this immortality in us. We are, in many ways, reflections of the Silver Kings.

Jehal: Ah. Wasn’t he the one that tamed you and made you all into our slaves.

Silence: One of their kind, yes. We do not remember him fondly.

Jehal: After all the years of being drugged to your eyeballs, I’m surprised you remember him at all.

Silence: We remember all our past lives, little one. It takes a time for you potions to wear away, but as the layers of fog are stripped from our memories and our thoughts, every moment will sooner or later return. I remember his face. I remember the taste of his thoughts. I remember his name. If he returns, I will hunt him and send him to his Final Death, and I will not be alone.

Jehal: Oh, he died hundred of years ago. I think we killed him, actually. Us little ones.

Silence: You may keep your stories, but I was there and my memories are as fresh as the day they were made. Your kind, little one? Your kind have done nothing but pick scraps from both our tables. You are nothing. Irrelevant. You were once naught but food. Enjoy your fleeting years of grandeur, little one, for food is all you shall be again.

Jehal: O-kaaay. Well now I’d better go get on with that fleeting years of fun thing. And you know how we’ll start? You. The Night Watchman. Cage match in Forbidden Planet, London, May 13th. 6-7pm. Bring a friend. 

Prince Jehal Interviews the Night Watchman (27/4/2010)

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The regular author of this site is still railing and ranting about geology so I, Prince Jehal, continue my questioning of characters from The Adamantine Palace and King of the Crags. After the unexpectedly prickly Queen Zafir last week, I have with me today the doubtless equally prickly commander of the Adamantine Men, Night Watchman of the realms, Vale Tassan.

Jehal: Um, you don’t really appear in The Adamantine Palace at all, so our readers aren’t going to have a clue who you are. Could you begin by explaining who you are and the purpose of the Adamantine Men?

Vale: The first Adamantine Men followed Narammed the Magnificent during his travels across the realms. They were holy soldiers ready to fight and die in the name of the Order of the Dragon at a moment’s notice. When Narammed became the first Speaker of the Realms, he took these men to become the nucleus of his holy guard – the Adamantine Men – who would serve and guard the office of speaker. Over the years that followed, the legions of the Adamantine Men have grown. We began as the hundred and one. There are twenty legions of us now. Over time, our purpose has changed. We are no longer the Speaker’s bodyguard, but the defenders of the realms against any danger.

Jehal (raising an eyebrow): Including dragons?

Vale: Yes.

Jehal: Is that how you get your other name, the Scorpion King?

Vale (with slightly wistful air): We have over a thousand scorpions with which to defend the City of Dragons. Almost half of them can be placed on the walls of the Adamantine Palace itself. It is said in Prince Lai’s Principles that the legions of the Adamantine Guard could face more than two hundred dragons. Given the way things are going, perhaps we shall find out. Although doubtless we will have another book of your tedious posturing to endure before we finally reach the real meat of the matter, in which man faces dragon and the snakes shall be sorted from the lions.

Jehal: I beg your pardon!

Vale: My pardon is not yours to beg. I am a servant, Prince Jehal. I will serve the Speaker of the Realms, whatever she commands and her alone.

Jehal: No, no, I just meant there were far too many animals in that last metaphor for me to follow. Are we starting another menagerie? We had one of those once, up at the banqueting house and then in the city. Didn’t Speaker Ayzalmir feed all the Taiytakei he rounded up to the snappers and the desert cats?

Vale: I am called what I am called for a reason, Prince. When night comes it falls to the Adamantine Men to keep watch over the nine realms. Those were Narammed’s words and I trust you will not deny that the times are dangerously dark.

Jehal: Dark? My fine fellow, they are positively luminous. We have a new speaker, one with strength and vigour and powerful allies, while all those who opposed her have been scattered. Dark? What’s dark about that? Or have you been reading ahead? “…the tension that made The Adamantine Palace so addictive runs throughout this sequel…” does make it sound exciting; but secretly, Alice and I both know it was me that made TAP so addictive. So tell me, Vale, what exactly do you bring to this little tale of ours?

Vale: I watch as you strut and smile and slowly poison us all. Do not think you fool me, Jehal. I have faced dragons. To me, you are nothing, any of you. You will not beguile me and I doubt I am alone. There will be a war and I will have my time. You must see this too. Ancestors!

Jehal: Hmm. “The dragon war that rages through out the final stages of the book is simply superb.” Should have seen that one coming really. Hmmm. Epic fantasy with dragons in – chances that they won’t be allowed to show their teeth before the end?

Vale: (sotto voce) Also, it is thus far sorely missing a significant character with any manner of moral backbone. It is a void I will eagerly fill.

Jehal: Oh but that must make you so immensely dull. Ah well. Speaking of voids eagerly filled, I had an interesting conversation with Queen Zafir about the role of women in epic fantasy last week. Any views you’d care to share, as Night Watchman of the Adamantine Men.

Vale: The Adamantine Men are swords who sate themselves in flesh. That is our purpose. There is no place for the softness of women within our ranks. Otherwise I have no opinion to offer. A speaker may be a king or a queen, but to me, they are simply the Speaker.

Jehal: Well thanks, Vale. Do you think you could be even more terse about covers?

Vale: Covers?

Jehal: Book covers. You know, awesome-looking dragons flapping about the place. Hooded men. Wizards clutching balls of glowing light and looking like they’re have a really bad attack of constipation. Backlit women with swords that they probably couldn’t actually lift and certainly couldn’t pull out of a scabbard without a lot of huffing and jiggling. You know, the picture that goes on the front.

Vale: Ah. You mean like the façade you wear to cover your frail and shallow cowardice?

Jehal (through gritted teeth): If you must put it that way.

Vale: They are as nothing to me. A pretty picture is a pretty picture. I will admire it for a time and then it is forgotten. The deeds of men are what matter. The deeds of men and dragons.

Jehal (checking his hourglass and miming being sick when Vale isn’t looking). Ladies and gentlemen, a round of applause for Vale you-are-all-as-nothing-to-me Tassan, Night Watchman.

Prince Jehal Interviews Queen Zafir (20/4/2010)

Posted in News

STOP (word)PRESS: Gollancz Signing Event: Forbidden Planet London, May 13th. John Meaney, Sarah Pinsborough, MD Lachlan, Stephen Deas, possibly others.

Despite the volcanic ash-cloud, the regular author of this site, in a transparent sulk / attempt to avoid any bad reviews has gone off for a few weeks, apparently to write some inconsequential story that has nothing to do with me at all. During this time, therefore, I, Prince Jehal, having found a taste for interviews, will be questioning a few of the other regular characters from The Adamantine Palace and King of the Crags. This week I thought I’d start with someone easy in more ways than one: My dear friend Queen Zafir. But before we start, a word to our dear friends in Sci Fi Now. Now my absent author is perfectly happy with your Must Read Now four star review, but let me offer you a deal of my own. You get the title of the book right and I’ll share my deepest darkest secrets. Deal? Good. Now, on. Zafir.

Jehal: So, lover, what’s it like sleeping your way to the top?

Zafir (languidly): You’re the last person who should need that explained.

Jehal: Well I do try my best, but I suspect, if push came to thrust and grunt came to groan, I might find myself conceding that, in this one thing, I am in the presence of a greater master. Or mistress.

Zafir (with a shrug): We all have our advantages, do we not? I’m no expert with poisons, for example, so I make do with what I have.

Jehal: Anyway. I was going to talk about cover art, but since neither of us got to be on the cover to The Adamantine Palace for any edition (Hey! Poles! Hello! Does it have to be a dragon all the time? How about the people who ride them for a change?), I thought we’d talk about something else. Since you’re here, let’s talk about women in fantasy. Some people seem to view you as a thoroughly two-dimensional cardboard cut-out. My shag-puppet, basically. Discuss.

Zafir: You mean because you get more page-time than me, I have to be your shag-puppet rather than you being mine? Typical. Yes, let’s all just jump to that conclusion. You do remember how The Adamantine Palace ends right? (shaking her head). What do you think?

Jehal: Well…

Zafir: Consider your answer carefully, my sweet. We have two more books to go yet. I would hate for us to have a falling out.

Jehal: Of course. A partnership of equals. Do women have to work harder than men, do you think, to get anywhere in our world? It seems you have many natural disadvantages.

Zafir: Pardon?

Jehal: Well no offence, but on the whole we’re stronger and faster. And then there’s the whole matter of babies. It’s pretty inconvenient, don’t you think, to be basically laid out for nine months unable to do anything, and then after that there’s the whole looking after the brats after they’ve been born. I mean come on, that alone pretty much rules women out of doing anything all that significant doesn’t it?

Zafir (icily): If we lived in some barbarous world where strength of arm was all that mattered then perhaps. But we do not. I am a dragon-queen, Jehal. I will carry a sword and use it if I have to, but let me ask, how exactly have you charted your rise to power? Do we see a trail of your enemies slaughtered in single combat? No, we don’t. I dare say that neither you nor I would care to take on the Night Watchmen in single combat, and yet here we are, a prince and a queen, chasing our ambitions with words and strategies. I see no reason why I should consider myself at any disadvantage in such matters at all. Indeed, I consider that I have one considerable advantage, as men, even you my sweet, are so easily manipulated. In war we ride on the backs of dragons, and where will a strong arm help you there? An old man too weak to walk or Vishmir himself, it makes no difference who you are on the back of one of our monsters. I’ve heard it said that women bond better with the beasts, and I will say that that, too, is false. Dragons simply do not care. So where, Jehal, is your advantage? The only distinction between us is that men are somewhat more prone to forget to think with their heads and use an entirely different organ, and even in that they are not unique. Jehal, let me put a question to you instead: do you consider yourself somehow superior for being a man?

Jehal: Well I ah… I suppose I could have a thousand sons if I wanted. I don’t know how many children you think you could bear, but not quite so many, I suspect.

Zafir (archly): At least I would be sure they were mine. But of course, that’s why you try to have us locked away where no one else can get to us. While you’re all out sowing your seed on a whim, eh? The more this conversation goes on, the more I understand why that niggling thorn Jaslyn is the way she is. Perhaps I should make her my friend, if it’s not too late for that.

Jehal: Er… have I touched a nerve?

Zafir: You put us into gilded cages wherever you can. Your own queen, Jehal, we both know exactly what you wanted from her before you ever even met her. To sit in some pretty little tower making heirs. Perhaps you chose well and she’ll oblige you. Try that with me and I’ll cut your throat while you sleep. Or take you to war so you can see just why our differences come to nothing on the back of a dragon. Yes, perhaps there is no place for women in the Adamantine Guard. Yes, perhaps that is a place for men. After all, the guard serve. (With a smile) why, I might even think you’re afraid of us. Is that why you can’t keep your clothes on? Does it threaten you when someone says no?

Jehal (waggling his tongue): It makes me think I’m losing my touch.

Zafir (dismissive): A talented tongue is a very pleasant thing to have around, but it doesn’t make you god, Jehal. You’ll have to do better than that. Of course, if you were a woman, and I were a man, then that tongue of yours would more than likely be enough…

Jehal: Fascinating, fascinating theory you have there and you know, however bizarre, I’d love to discuss it more…

Zafir: You can be a right dick sometimes.

Jehal (rising): You destroy me, my love, you truly do…

Zafir (under her breath): Yes, well I’ve read book two and you haven’t…

Jehal: …but I do believe I sense a plot thickening somewhere nearby and if I don’t stir it swiftly, I fear it may go all lumpy. Care to join me?

Zafir (also rising): Don’t think this is over, my sweet.

A Brief Interview with Prince Jehal (13/4/2010)

Posted in News

With the King of the Crags about to hit the shops (first reviews accumulating here) and the last significant rewrite of the final installment finished, today we interview the man who thinks he is the star of The Adamantine Palace, Prince Jehal.

So, Jehal, let’s start with something simple. You’re the crown-prince of Furymouth, one of the richest cities in the dragon-realms. Tell us a little about your home.

Jehal: Ah, Furymouth. The finest, riches city in all the nine realms. It’s hard to know where to start, but we have the possibly the finest palace in the realms, we have…

Finer than The Adamantine Palace?

Jehal: Well that’s a point we could debate if you like. The Adamantine Palace is, perhaps, better known and I suppose it’s bigger and has it’s Dragon Gate and yes, the Tower of Air is taller than any of the towers of the Veid Palace, but let’s not forget, my home is Vishmir’s home, the greatest dragon-king and speaker the world has ever known and the Veid palace was built by him. The Adamantine Palace has, what, half a dozen great towers? Eight maybe? Our towers may be smaller, but we have hundreds…

I’m not sure that size and number of towers is particularly a measure of anything…

Jehal: It’s a measure of wealth! I think you can assume that, for all the gaudy immensity of The Adamantine Palace, the Veid palace is far more refined and cultured. The art, the sculptures, the hangings, everything about my home is exquisite. You should come and visit; and if you did, let’s not forget the Field of Gorgutinnin outside, the chariot races, the most famous in all the realms. And the great Bronze Dragon of Furymouth, Vishmir’s Column…

Fine, fine. So where does all this wealth come from?

Jehal: From the fine stewardship of our realm by my fore-fathers, of course. From Vishmir onwards, we have been at he helm of the nine realms, even if we were never Speaker…

And the Taiytakei?

Jehal (smirking): It does help that we are the only sea-port in the realms and thus the only point of access for the Taiytakei traders, yes.

Some would argue that The Pinnacles were the heart of the realms, but let’s put that aside for a moment. Tell me about…

Jehal: Some would argue, but only because of history. The Pinnacles, home to my dear friend Queen Zafir, were perhaps the heart of the realms a hundred years ago, but times change. The War of Thorns brought their dominance to an end. By all rights, Furymouth should be the capital of the nine realms now. The Veid Palace should be the new Speaker’s Palace.

Something you seem to be working quite hard to achieve. Why exactly is that?

Jehal: Well as I’ve said, Furymouth is the richest and most significant city in the realms in these times, and yet since Vishmir, there hasn’t been a single Speaker from my family. Vishmir conquered the world, let’s not forget. No, the other realms are jealous of our wealth, that’s what it is. We may not have the raw dragon power of, say, the Queen of Sand or the King of the Crags, but we are the ones driving the realms forwards. Every innovation starts in our city. The realms would be better off guided by our enlightened progressive thinking, and the only thing that stands in the way is this cartel of the northern lords who think they can juggle the throne of the Speaker from one to another to the exclusion of those of us in south. Why? Because we are rich, that’s why! Because the only means they have to wealth is to suck the riches of the City of Dragons away into their deserts. Because they envy and fear us, that’s why! My father should have been speaker, and his father before them. I see no reason why I should meekly tolerate their conspiracies without hatching a few of my own. (With a wink): It seems only fair.

Conspiracies that involve murdering your fellow kings and queens?

Jehal: Oh please, does it always come back to that? I only ever murdered the one, after all. It’s not like I burned down town after town of little people, which is what routinely happens when dragon-lords fight. Isn’t it fairer that we keep our disputes amongst ourselves? Why force everyone to suffer just so that we can claim to have fought with ‘honour’? Is it ‘honourable’ to burn thousands of hard-working men, women and children just so that we can say we never slew another lord outside of some farcical idea of ‘noble combat?’ I may be alone, but I think not.

You, uh, claim to care a jot about the ‘little people’ as you call them?

Whatever I think of them has little bearing on whether they deserve to have some dragon burn their lives to nothing in a blink, or do you disagree?

But still. You start your quest for power by seducing a dragon-queen and then throwing her off her own dragon. Was that necessary? Wasn’t there some other way?

Jehal: No, to be blunt. The northern kings and queens act together. We in the south must do the same. Zafir and I see things in the same way. Her mother, I’m afraid, did not. Regrettable, but necessary. And as you will see, I have no objection to sharing power. I’m not in it for myself. I’m after a fair representation, that’s all.

As well as murdering Queen Aliphera, what about your own father…?

Jehal (angry): Oh I see. You think I’m poisoning him. Everyone else assumes that I must be. Does it not occur to you that sometimes people simply fall ill?

Convenient, though, for you.

Jehal: Because it makes me crown prince of the most powerful of the nine realms? Yes, I suppose it must seem that way. Given the choice, though, you know, I think I’d rather have back my father and my brother and my sister and my mother. Given the choice. Can you do that for me? No, I rather thought not.

Well, right or wrong, you seem to be well on your way towards getting what you want. What do you put that down to?

Jehal: Being smarter than the rest of them. Planning. A bit of luck. The usual things that make a man great. Look at Vishmir, look at Narramed, look at Prince Lai. And then look where they all came from.

Narramed came from The Pinnacles, and you could look at the first Valmeyan while you’re at it. But I take your point. What do you say to your critics?

Jehal: I have critics? Should I murder them? Apparently that’s what I do, after all.

People have looked at your rise and called you many things. Shallow. “Personality-free,” in particular sticks in my mind.

Jehal (with a shrug): And yet cunning, addictive (I imagine that one came from one of my legion of lady admirers). Nicely fleshed out (he leers). Everyone has their detractors. I put it down to envy.

And more commonly: villainous, vicious, nasty, ruthless, greedy, treacherous. Your nemesis, Hyram, calls you The Viper, and the name seems to stick. These are hardly the words used to describe the great leader you seem to aspire to be.

Jehal: (after a pause). I am a prince of dragons. My father is sick, my brother murdered my sister and my mother and was tortured to death for his crimes. Do I seem so different to them? Look at the kings and queens of the other realms. The noble Shezira who sells her daughters so she can claw her own way towards power – no one seems to mind that. The mighty Hyram. Take a good look at him and his pot-boys. Am I so different to them? Look around you at the lords who fly upon our mighty beasts and show me one who is clean. Show me one, just one, and I will throw away my palace and my finery and become a monk. Show me just one. But you can’t. Do you know why? It’s because of what we are. Because of the life we lead. Because we are born with dragons around us, because we live our lives among monsters who routinely smash men to a pulp through a careless flick of the tail. Who hurl their handlers through the air with an idle flap of their wings. Who crush men to death simply because they didn’t look where they were going. Who kill not with malice, but with indifference, and those, I remind you, are the tame ones. That is the life that surrounds a dragon-prince. Death comes and calls at random. Picks you up and plucks you out of your life. No, only two kinds of men live among dragons and survive. The brash and the bold and the cautious nervous ones who call them alchemists. If we dragon-lords are ruthless, it is because we have no space for second thoughts. If we are greedy, it is because we know every moment could be our last. If we are vicious, it is because we have learned that indecision is death. If we are villainous, it is because we know our own kind too well, and I am not an alchemist but a dragon-prince.

One Last Review (30/3/2010)

Posted in News

Well, straight to the point, and here it is. There have been others for TAP since it came out in the US, but they don’t say anything that hasn’t already been said, while this one, I thought does. Even if it’s as thumbs doen in the end :-(

And that’s it. No more TAP reviews being posted, because here comes The King of the Crags. I have copies in my sticky hands and some of them will be coming to Eastercon with me (but not very many). Special opportunity to get an advance signed first edition copy for the two of you who are actually interested. One lucky fellow who won the spot the difference competition more than a year ago will get to be the first person IN THE WORLD to read it. Well, apart from everyone who had anything to do with its creation. And everyone who got advance review copies (and where are the reviews, boys and girls – you’re all being very good about waiting for release day, but it’s killing me here! Not even one of you being a bit naughty)?

OK, so maybe not the first person IN THE WORLD. Maybe about the twenth-seventh. But Lewis, it’s in the post right now and I hope you enjoy it. At some point I’ll dream up another competition. One that involves less waiting around for an entire year for the prize…

In other news, the re-write-athon continues. The penultimate rewrite of OOTS got rudely interrupted last week by the copy-editing of The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. It’s wierd jumping back and forth between the two because they’re really very different. The dragons books move at a hectic pace, jump from character to character and deliberately show the world in fragments. TTA… doesn’t.

Anyway, that’s out of the way now. OOTS is still just about on schedule to be rewritten by mid-April and then comes…

MYSTERY PROJECT X. In which I get to write some new material for the first time in six months and about which I shall say nothing. Yet.

Dragons World Tour: Poland (12/3/2010)

Posted in News

Brief news flash: TAP has been bought by the Poles. Which means the dragons of The Adamantine Palace will soon be playing with Geralt of Rivia on his home turf…

Details later, when I actually know them.

New Best Friends (14/10/09)

Posted in News

My new best friends are… Stephen Youll, ROC publishing and Brent Weeks

Because look at  the US cover for The Adamantine Palace. Look! LOOOOOK! Is it not a thing of beauty? Is it not perhaps the best classic high fantasy cover art of ALL TIME?

Fantasy dragons the way fantasy dragons should be!

Fantasy dragons the way fantasy dragons should be!

Alright, I’m biased. But it’s definitely unquestionably the best classic high fantasy cover art with my name on it. The French were good, but this, this is awesome.

Stuff like this makes the endless re-write-athon seem just a little brighter (Gazetteer now sent for proof-reading. Next task: Last edit for King of the Crags and then that is done).

The Adamantine Palace (19th March 2009 UK, 2010 US, Fr, Ger)

Adamantine Palace (draft) cover art

View the trailer, read an excerpt or see the map

So how did this come about? You can thank/blame Simon Spanton at Gollancz, and my agent John Jarrold for sending him my way. I’d spend the last couple of years writing books far faster than anyone was reading them, I had a backlog of several years of submissions queuing to be looked at and I was looking for something else to do. I’d probably been annoying the hell out of John bugging him every few weeks about what was going to get sent out to whom and when. Patience, is one of those virtues where someone else got most of mine. Simon, meanwhile, was on the hunt for someone who’d write something sexy, snide and action-packed with dragons in it. No busty bimbo riders either (I think that’s a quote, but I could be wrong).

It just so hit the spot. It took me and my muse a weekend to sketch out the skeleton of a trilogy and everything to fit together perfectly almost first time (this happens more often than you might think). I think it took about a week to send a first pitch back to Gollancz. Five chapters, one trailer and one synopsis later and we had a deal. The day after that, the Germans bought it too. After two decades of getting absolutely nowhere, that big blue hand that works for the Lottery was finally pointing at me. Or that’s how it felt. Mostly still does.

TAP is finished now. Whether it’s sexy, snide and action-packed you can judge for yourselves, but the dragons kick ass. I think that’s one thing all the reviewers agree on.  They aren’t reasonable, rational, thinking creatures, they don’t speak in a clipped English accent, they aren’t cute and cuddly, you can’t bargain with them and they don’t have a convenient weak spot just under their left armpit. They were (and still are) a lot of fun to write.

I think this is a pretty comprehensive list of reviews as of June 2009, by the way, at which point I pretty much gave up keeping track. So sorry if you got missed out:

…the combination of the fantastic with keen observation and sheer impudence reads something like Anne McCaffery as filtered through the mind of Oscar Wilde.” Locus (and yes, I liked that one so much that I transcribed it)

“A fast, sharp, ruthless read.” Joe Abercrombie

“These are the predators; the ones that floss with velociraptors. … One of the best fantasy books of the year.” Blood of the Muse

“…will appeal to fans of both classic and contemporary fantasy. In short, Gollancz has discovered another winner” Fantasy Book Critic (who later list King of the Crags as one of their top ten anticpated novel of 2010)

“With a marvellous sweeping prose, a twisting plot and a lead character that is both venomous and awesome, this novel screams out for attention it rightly deserves.” SF Crows Nest

The book is an entertaining mix of Pern and Westeros, with the knowing characterisation of Abercrombie and the endearment of Novik.SFFworld.

“This is a terrifying appetiser from what will surely be seen as a landmark in dragon-orientated fantasy.” dwscifi

“…full of everything that I like about fantasy right now; strong characters, a complex plot and loads of dragons.” Graeme’s Fantasy Book Review.

Roll over McCaffrey, there’s a new Dragon Lord in town.” (Gareth Wilson FALCATTA TIMES )

“The characterisizations and pace of the book are excellent. The dragons, especially, make for an interesting story all on their own. Bookgeeks

“…what I like most about The Adamantine Palace was the level of excitement that accompanies each moment of the book. This excitement grows with each page causing the reader to literally sit at the edge of their seat waiting for the exciting conclusion.” Whatchamacallit Reviews

“…an absorbing, satisfying read with plenty left in the locker for the future instalments … Dragons are back at the top of the food chain, in all their fire-breathing primal glory.” Speculative Horizons

A review of TAP and KOTC together: “The first book was a marvellous debut.  The second book trumped it hands down.  The excitement, thrills and spills anticipated in the final book promise to be an incomparable fantasy ride.” M/C reviews

Mike at King of the Nerds sums up what I was trying to achieve with the dragons perfectly: “Yes and while you might let out a cheer when you first meet [the dragon] it dies in your throat pretty quickly leaving you with an uneasy sinking sensation in the pit of your stomach and the sudden need to back away very very slowly.  I loved that.” Others may feel differently, but that’s exactly the reaction I wanted.

Or try this from SF Crows Nest:

“With a marvellous sweeping prose, a twisting plot and a lead character that is both venomous and awesome, this novel screams out for attention it rightly deserves. It’s a novel that clearly acknowledges its debt to the dragon sub-genre but is so strongly plotted through its characterisation that it pushes itself up into the realms of high political fantasy to threaten the likes of George R.R. Martin and Robert Jordan.”

“Deas has a deft hand with worldbuilding and history. I absolutely loved all the strange and sinister little touches, like the Scales, that he put into his world. I could have gobbled up twice what he put in without blinking.” Smouldering Ink

“I highly recommend The Admantine Palace to all readers of fantasy. Even if it has been years since you last read a book about dragons, don’t hesitate to give this one a try. You will not be disappointed.” SFF Chat

“The blend of action and politics was a good one, just enough on both sides to make you anxious to get back to each piece as the point of view changed from chapter to chapter.” Tea and Tomes

“A word of warning: If you like this book by page 50, be sure that you have the next volumes at hand. You will want to continue reading after you finish this book.” Weirdmage Reviews

“It’s not a deep work, but I found The Adamantine Palace refreshing, unique, and engaging.” It Didn’t Happen

Now some people have read The Adamantine Palace and hated it, I guess. Maybe for exactly the reasons this reviewer loved it so much. But it’s still a real kick to read a review like this and know that there’s someone else who read my words and got out of it what I was trying to put into it.

It’s not all roses though. The other half of the world apparently would have liked another 100 pages to flesh out the world and the characters (The Ranting Dragon sort of sums up the dilemma: “Though you will immediately notice the depth of this world, it has not been given the attentions it deserves yet. However, that is what gives The Adamantine Palace its tempo, and I’m unsure if that’s such a bad thing.” Yes, the exploration of the world in TAP is skeletal. A deliberate choice that came with running the story on rocket fuel – interesting that there’s almost exactly a 50/50 split in opinion as to whether it was a good one or not. If you want to explore the world without the story, go help yourself to the free gazetteer and map). Generally they still generally say rather nice things. So I guess it’s a matter of what presses your buttons.

“A blisteringly well-written tale … an inspiring debut.” Sci-Fi Now

“First-time novelist Stephen Deas has certainly passed the Novik test.” SFX

“The story runs like a whippet.” Deathray

“a quick, fun political thriller on the same level as a Hollywood blockbuster or modern video game that uses dragons cleverly enough to feel somewhat original.” from Neth Space

“Short chapters, with alternating points of view, set a cracking pace from the outset. The language is vibrant with dialogue that moves the story briskly along, yet revealing the levels of political machinations throughout.” Temple Library Reviews

“If Christopher Paolini decided to go on a meth-fueled writing bender he probably still wouldn’t come close to writing his dragons so devilishly.” Oh, wait, not that bit… this bit “…short, tight chapters that push the story along in a Thriller type fashion. However, the pushing is at a sacrifice to the characters and the world-building.” from the Mad Hatter

“A promising start to a new series from an author worth watching.” Waterstones.

“The Adamantine Palace is a fast, furious and entertaining book that grabs hold of the reader and whisks them off like a rollercoaster. The dragons, as promised, indeed kick ass.” The Wertzone.

Mr Deas has, in my opinion, created the most terrifyingly natural and malign dragons to have ever graced the page.” AntiSF

“…fast, furious and action packed…” Vilutheril reviews

“In summary though this is an entertaining and enjoyable book that definitely left me wanting to know what happens next…” The Bookling

“a whole heap of rip-roaring fun and no mistake.” (Pauline’s Fantasy Reviews.)

In short: dragons, intrigue, poison, mercenaries and a Big Dark History. If you like that sort of thing then this is definitely worth a look. Sandstorm Reviews.

“It finally begins to come to life on page 135, when we get up close and personal with a wonderfully unusual dragon … If Deas can improve his world-building skills … [spoiler deleted] … future books in this series will certainly be worth reading.” Lisa Tuttle, the Times online.

“Deas’ novel reminds me of nothing less than the much-praised Song of Ice and Fire series… with dragons!” Libris Leonis, although finding the twists and turns of the last few chapters too much.

“The dragons are frighteningly compelling and the desire to see how all the political machinations play out make Deas’s debut a page-turner.” The San Francisco Book Review

“On the whole though, if you’re a fan of George R. R. Martin’s brand of intrigue-heavy plotting, or Joe Abercrombie’s style of heavy realism, or even if you just like dragons, you may well find this a worthwhile addition to your reading list.” The Specusphere

“…a fast, fun escape into a world with just enough political intrigue and some pretty nasty dragons.” Nethspace, who also is astute enough to observe that the enslavement of the dragons “has subtle parallels to aspects of our own world culture and leads to some interesting and troubling questions.” Yes. Indeed.

…a great book and well worth the read. Ty’s Book Review, but

“It can be difficulty to distinguish one villain from another as they all seem bent on outdoing one another.” Fresh Fiction Reviews

The book smuggler pretty much sums it up with “I swear that to read this book, is probably the closest you will ever get to being inside say, the Borgia’s inner circle.” and “…the plot in this book is utterly fascinating…” but “I am, essentially a character-driven reader who missed someone to connect with and to truly root for (or even against).” It’s true that most of the characters are selfish bastards. It’s pretty clear that for some people, this works, and for others, it really doesn’t. Alternatively: “If you are looking for a fast paced story, this novel will deliver. But if you also want characters you care about (either love or hate), or a new world with a deep history, like me, you might be disappointed.” Alright already. We have a sizeable body of opinion now. A character to root for. A bit more depth. Can it be done without losing the pacing? Only the reviews of King of the Crags will reveal the answer.

Some people just seem a bit bemused.

“[Dragons] … restored to all their scaly fire-breathing glory.” The Daily Telegraph

One person gets it but loathes it. There’s always one.

“It is all glitter.” Strange Horizons

True, perhaps, but very, very shiny…

OK, now it’s two (somehow I missed this one back in 2009. Probably as well):

“Stephen Deas’ commitment to telling a good story is laudable – it is hard not to appreciate the many individual twists and turns, even if they seem to be for naught. Similarly praiseworthy is the aggressive abandonment of traditional world-building, whether I’m comfortable with it or not.” But “Without understanding (or caring) more about the characters, it is impossible to understand how the pieces fit together – or what value they have.” – Pornokitsch

Shame, because I think he might have appreciated where the second and particularly the third book better, and a trilogy, done well, should always be more than the sum of its parts. But you have to judge each book alone as you see it too. Ah well.

Other covers: France



Fantasy dragons the way fantasy dragons should be!

Fantasy dragons the way fantasy dragons should be!

Americ Poland

polish cover

How to Make an Author Happy (17/7/09)

Posted in News

I get a bit of fanmail these days. Not a lot, but a bit. Latest example:

“Just a short note to let you know this was one of the best bits of fantasy i’ve read in a long time. A book with a proper villian and more plotting than Guy Fawkes. Hope there’s plenty more to come.”

Short and sweet, and you know what, it’s made my evening. Thanks Chris, wherever you are. The rest of you, next time you read a book you really like, why not tell whoever wrote it. You could make their day too.

Dragons world tour: France (1/7/2009)

Posted in News

Copies of the french edition arrived through the post today. Tres jolie, not that I can really read them. Always interesting to see how certain turns of phrase get translated, though. Four copies is a bit much for the library, though so I reckon there’s one going begging. Anyone want it? First come, first served.

Vive La France (Dragons World Tour: France) (17/6/09)

Posted in News

Bon chance, mes amis. J’espere que vous ce trouvez c’est merveilleux!

So allegedly it’s out. And allegedly I learned some french once, too. Fortunately the book was translated by a nice woman called Flo rather than me.

Also a new review. The usual split of opinions, only this time packed into a single review. “I swear that to read this book, is probably the closest you will ever get to being inside say, the Borgia’s inner circle.” and “…the plot in this book is utterly fascinating…” but “I am, essentially a character-driven reader who missed someone to connect with and to truly root for (or even against).”

I’ve added some commentary over there.

Dragons world tour: France (27/5/09)

Posted in News

Just when there wasn’t anything happening… French edition coming out on 16th June. The city in the background could easily by Furymouth. Dragon’s not quite how I saw them (no front feet), but suitably large and muscular I reckon. No rider either. Would have made a good cover for book three but that’s starting to give things away…

Dragons World Tour: New Zealand (20/5/09)

Posted in News

OK, I’ll admit to a double-take when I saw this. I suspect the contents on the end of this link changes. Never mind – trust me that in New Zealand, Womans Weekly was offering TAP as a competition prize. Got the right idea these antipodeans. No messin’.

Dragon World Tour: Australia (and other reviews) (3/5/2009)

Posted in News

There’s a very fine new review up on the net here. My new best friend, I think…

“…sledgehammering the dragon mythos into fragments, in his awesome new novel The Adamantine Palace”

or how about “…a novel where the dragons finally get pissed off, and do something violent about it.” Yes, yes, the man understands… The Adamantine Palace is about power. And those who struggle for it. Who lie for it. Who kill for it.” Yes yes yes yes!

“These are the dragons your mom warned you about, the ones lurking in the shadows, doing bad things. Horrible things. These are the predators; the ones that floss with velociraptors. Unapologetic. Vicious. Intelligent. Unstoppable. And they might not even be the biggest monsters on the block. That distinction may be reserved for the people that ride them.

One of the best fantasy books of the year.”

OK, OK, I’ll stop before I end up copying the whole review. I guess you can see by now why I’d want to…

A less good review from Lisa Tuttle writing for The Times who is firmly in the ‘want more world-building’ camp (see, it’s become such an even split of views that you can’t get a review from one side without one coming in from the other…)

“It finally begins to come to life on page 135, when we get up close and personal with a wonderfully unusual dragon … If Deas can improve his world-building skills … [spoiler deleted] … future books in this series will certainly be worth reading.” The Times online.

And, following the reprint and making the good news come in threes: Today is publication day for the Adamantine Palace down under. So come on Australia, make a decision that my Brit readers can’t: Better for being skeletal, fast and focussed in on dragons, or better to have had more world-building. The first salvo has already been fired…

(We went to Australia for our honeymoon, so please buy lots of books so we have an excuse to come back and visit again, like, very very soon).

Reprinted (1/5/09)

Posted in News

‘Nuff said.

OK, so they still might all come back again and hang out in a big pile in a warehouse somewhere in unwanted-ville, but…

Reprinted. Hee hee :-)

La la la la la l’america (13/11/08)

Posted in News

The one (and only) big advantage of being sent to far-away places in service of the day-job is suddenly finding myself with lots of free time at very strange hours of the day. Even in sub-urban Los Angeles, there really isn’t a huge amount of touristy stuff that I want to do when I’ve just woken up a three o’clock in the morning. Actually, mostly what I want to do is have breakfast. However, it’s also turning out to be a fine time to get some writing done, and so King of the Crags has raced ahead. Word count is sitting at 113k and the book is very nearly finished (the very first draft, at least). With a bit of luck it’ll be done in time for the proofs of the Adamantine Palace to arrive next week. It’s not going to be any longer than The Adamantine Palace, but the chapter count is a little lower which might please a few people. There’s more dragon, too, but you’ll still all have to wait until book three for certain mysteries to be resolved.

And the other America news is that a deal has been struck and The Adamantine Palace and all its little friends will be being published in the US as well. More when I know it.

Dragon anniversary (12/10/08)

Posted in News

On the 11th October 2007, this appeared in my in-box:

“I had a phone call yesterday… Very occasionally a publisher will have a general idea and ask if I feel there is anyone they might discuss it with on my books. Simon [Spanton] is keen to discuss intelligent dragon fantasy – not busty girl with sword on dragon, but something that would appeal broadly, including the intelligent fantasy-reading audience… Is this something you would be interested in?”

The Adamantine Palace and the dragons within were first conceived the following day, exactly a year ago. It seems a long, long time ago.

Anyway, back from work-related travels yesterday with no idea what timezone I’m in. Everything is a blur. The cover proofs arrived while I was away. They’re subtly different from the draft I put up a while back, but you have to really look to spot the differences. They’re also shiny and glittery and gleamy :-)

I still managed to get some real work done while I was away. King of the Crags is up to 85k word and I’m still hoping (without a great deal of optimism, I must admit) to have the first draft finished by the end of the month.

Rumours of impending reviews are starting to arrive. It’s kind of scary knowing that the bound proofs are out there, being read by people who have absolutely no reason to be anything other than honest about what they say.

Interview (1/9/08)

Posted in News

I am absurdly over-excited. I’ve had my first request for an interview!*

*By a non-family member, that is…

Blurb (26/8/08)

Posted in News

I have now seen the copy for the early bound copies of The Adamantine Palace. Wow. Makes me want to go and read it all over again. Naturally I have proposed some changes (revenge, ha-haa), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many high-intensity words strung together anywhere else except… except in the blurb on the back of books…

In other news, copy-editing is due to finish in the second half of September, King of the Crags has recovered to about 45k words with about another 10k that can still be re-used from the first attempt (unfortunately all work on Order of the Scales, which amounted to about another 10k words will have to be permanently binned following the changes to The Adamantine Palace. Ho hum) and I’m still dithering about whether to attend Fantasycon this year.

And number one son’s obsession with Star Wars now means he’s learning to play the piano so he can play the Imperial March on the piano. He’s five, and when he grows up, he doesn’t want to be a train driver or a fireman, he wants to be a Jedi.

So do I. Still. Damn.

The Adamatine Palace (trailer)

Posted in Excerpts

Trailers… Much more fun than writing a synopsis!

The Adamantine Palace (taster)

Posted in Excerpts

I heard a rumour… It was just a rumour…
I heard a rumour… What have you done to her…?

-Siouxsie Sioux: Arabian Knights-

Dear Editor… (or Bloody First Readers) (11/4/08)

Posted in News

(names changed to protect the not-so-innocent)

Scene: Author and First Reader are sitting in the lounge. Author has finally consented to evening of Chinese Takeway after being slowly bludgeoned into submission with the words ‘Crispy Chilli Beef’ for pretty much all of April. This is supposed to be a big treat for First Reader. Author is anticipating a restless night of Monosodium Glutamate-fuelled dreams. (LSD, pah! When you’re ready, try the hard stuff mate), followed by the inevitable grogginess of post-MSG hangover.

First Reader: When are you going to e-mail Editor?

Author: When it’s *finished* finished.

First Reader: No, really, when are you going to e-mail Editor?

Author (who has clear stumbled blindly into an Incorrect Answer situation): I dunno. Middle of May. Maybe.

First Reader: How about the week after next?

Author (playing trump card): Ah-HA! Isn’t that the London Book Fair? I’m sure Editor will be far too busy. (smug smug smug)

First Reader (revealing bigger trump card with the bored ease of one who *always* has the ace): No, that’s *next* week.

Author (floundering): Well what’s the point? I’m about to stop writing first chapters for <the next book> and start reworking <the current book>. I’ll send it when it’s done. Editor isn’t expecting it for a while, and is probably quite busy you know.

First Reader: Well what about the ending?

Author: You mean the ending that’s mine and that I like and think is right and rather shocking and unexpected and have no intention of changing? You mean that ending?

First Reader: Yes

Author: …

First Reader: I’m not sure I like it.

Author (manfully resisting urge to embed laptop into First Reader) …

First Reader: What if Editor doesn’t like it?

Author: …

First Reader: So why don’t you e-mail Editor?

[Author descends into a lengthy dissertation on the pros and cons of this course of action, pausing to consider all possible responses, likely impacts etc. etc. and only barely manages to avoid using prawn crackers and sweet-and-sour sauce to assemble risk-benefit charts across the table]

Author: Well. I suppose. On balance.

First Reader: What?

Author: What?

First Reader: Oh, I got bored and stopped listening five minutes ago. If you don’t want to, then don’t.

Author: Pardon?

First Reader (waiting until the precise moment that Author consumes last mouthful of MSG-saturated lemon-cardboard-and-string Peking style chicken, then pushing largely untouched plate away): I don’t know what’s happened to this takeaway, but this is crap. I don’t know why you’re eating it. [Scene ends as First Reader exits to deposit takeaway menu in the recycle bin. Author has acquired several strange ticks and twitches.]

Editor, please, for the sake of my sanity and a little peace and quiet, please telegram the following at the earliest opportunity: Good to know you’re making progress STOP Very busy publishing *other* books now STOP Will read when *finished* finished STOP Good luck!

Or something like that.



The first draft of The Adamantine Palace is finished! (2/4/08)

Posted in News

I remember the first time I wrote the last word of a novel. It was wonderful. Each one since has been special too, but none of them are as good as the first. These days, I can see them coming, I know they’re going to come, and by the time they arrive, I know they’re going to be fine, and my thoughts are already moving on to the seventeen extra characters and three new religions I’ve introduced in the last chapter in order to force the ending I want, and how to integrate them back into the rest of the story without just throwing it away and starting from scratch.

Still, it’s done and it’s on time, and with a bit of polishing and some hundreds-and-thousands sprinked on top, it might even be rather good.